Frustration works a little different for everybody, regardless of whether you are on the autism spectrum or not. However, being on the spectrum, I believe I can provide a little perspective on what it’s like to be frustrated and on the spectrum. As I said in my introduction piece, I don’t speak for anyone but myself, but I would guess that there are people on the spectrum who feel the way I do when frustrated.
Consider this: people on the autism spectrum tend to have fixations. These fixations vary, from the source of fixation to the behavioral response. For me, frustration is unfortunately something I can stay fixated on. Why? Because I want there to be an immediate resolve to the problem that I am having, which causes frustration. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work that way, but I have learned ways in which I can deal with the frustration.
Take yesterday for example, when I was writing this blog piece. For about two hours and 17 minutes, I was in a writer’s block. It wasn’t until a half-hour in that I realized I was experiencing writer’s block and as a result, became frustrated. I couldn’t think about anything but the lack of topics to write about. I became fixated on this. Whenever I become fixated on something that is preventing me from moving forward with my day, I experience frustration. That frustration begins to consume me and affects my behavior. It’s not my intention to give nasty glares or to respond in a sharp tone. It’s just how I respond to frustration.
Yet it’s in those moments of frustration when I forget that there are ways to resolve it, but you have to be open to trying something. Going back to yesterday, I followed the advice of the Dali Lama, who said to avoid negative sources, people, places and habits. So, I took myself away from the computer, went to my car and sat in there for a few minutes. Not to my surprise, it worked like a charm. Getting away from the room I was in allowed me to clear my mind and ultimately overcome the frustration that brewed inside me. I was able to come up with a blog piece, which, ironically, is about frustration.
The lesson I want people to take away from this is that for some individuals on the autism spectrum, frustration is tough to overcome because of our fixation and behavioral response to fixations. We aren’t being stubborn – we just have a hard time deviating our concentration from frustration. With constant encouragement to divert our frustration from the source, parents and individuals on the spectrum can overcome the problems of fixation on frustration.